Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A peasant's time is the latitude she is thrown into.
But in a certain manner even 'primitive' Dasein makes itself independent of reading off the time directly from the sky, when instead of ascertaining the sun's position it measures the shadow cast by some entity available at any time. This can happen in the first instance in the simplest form of the ancient 'peasant's clock'. Everyman is constantly accompanied by a shadow; and in the shadow the sun is encountered with respect to its changing presence at different places. In the daytime, shadows have different lengths which can be paced off 'at any time'. Even if individuals differ in the lengths of their bodies and feet, the relationship between them remains constant within certain limits of accuracy. Thus, for example, when one is concerned with making an appointment, one designates the time publicly by saying, 'When the shadow is so many feet long, then we shall meet yonder.' Here in Being with one another within the rather narrow boundaries of an environment which is very close to us, it is tacitly presupposed that the 'locations' at which the shadow gets paced off are at the same latitude. This clock is one which Dasein does not have to carry around with it; in a certain manner Dasein itself is the clock.

The public sundial, in which the line of a shadow is counterposed to the course of the sun and moves along a numbered track, needs no further description. But why is it that at the position which the shadow occupies on the dial we always find something like time? Neither the shadow nor the divided track is time itself, nor is the spatial relationship between them. Where, then, is the time, which we thus read off directly not only on the 'sundial' but also on any pocket watch?

Pp. 468-9
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